Jury Nullification

Some of you may have heard about a juror who was dismissed from his jury for asking the judge to specify where in the Constitution the federal government's authority to ban drugs was.  (Background at the Volokh Conspiracy) The judge produced a 40-page memorandum explaining his decision to strike that juror from the jury after deliberations have begun.  The juror doesn't get quite the same platform but still tells his side of the story.

It's shameful that the long and mostly proud tradition of jury nullification as a check on government abuse has been reduced to the point where a juror must lie about his reasons for refusing to convict in order for his decision to stand. 

Jury nullification has never been the easiest right to exercise.  The case from which the principle was derived required the jurors to endure lengthy imprisonment during their "deliberations" before the government accepted their verdict.  In this case the government didn't even have to do that; they simply swapped in an alternate juror who rendered the approved verdict.

The defendent in this case should already be writing his appeal.  And we had best hope he wins, however disreputable he may be as an individual.  Otherwise jury nullification as a practical restraint on government power is in dire jeopardy.

This entry was published Mon Aug 18 12:08:41 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2008-08-18 12:08:41.0. [Tweet]

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